She will ride in a convertible at the front of the 2008 parade through downtown Beeville on Saturday.
“The parade committee chose to honor Jo Adkins and the Chamber is thrilled to recognize her for her lifelong contributions to our community,” said Chamber President Pam Priour Stuart.
She added that it was only fitting that the widow of Teal Adkins, longtime Beeville postmaster, is being honored during the community’s Sesquicentennial celebration along with Western Week.
Mrs. Adkins has had a long history of civic involvement, not only in promoting Beeville and Bee County, but also this region, including the designation of Padre Island National Seashore.
In 1994, Mrs. Adkins was chosen by the Victoria Advocate as one of eight outstanding “South Texas Women.” Mrs. Adkins was unaware that she had been nominated for the honor, which had been previously awarded to her sister-in-law, the late Hilda Adkins, in 1991.
The eight recipients were selected and recognized for their diverse talents and consistent contributions to numerous projects which provided needed services or enhanced the quality of life in their communities, area or state.
Mrs. Adkins was born in Donna in 1917 and, after graduating from high school there, enrolled at the Texas State College for Women (now Texas Woman’s University) in Denton, where she received a bachelor of science degree in vocational home economics in 1939.
She came to Beeville to teach school that fall and after meeting Teal Adkins, married him on Dec. 1, 1939. The couple have three children, Scott, Tom and Joan, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Active in numerous organizations benefiting the arts, environment and youth, her memberships, past and/or present, include:
• First Presbyterian Church, in which she has been chairman of the finance committee for the South Texas Presbytery in women’s work and served two years as a chairman of World Missions.
• Retired Teachers Association, after teaching 12 years in the Beeville public schools, the last eight as head of the high school home economics department; and received a life membership from the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers in recognition of her work as past president of the local organization.
• Rosetta Club, which she has served as conservation chairman, and also was state conservation chairman of the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs. Her work there led Gov. Price Daniel to appoint her to a Padre Island Study Commission, which eventually resulted in the establishment of Padre Island National Seashore in 1965. She was commended by U.S. Sen. Ralph Yarborough and Interior Secretary Stewart Udall on her well-researched 18-page report, which was “largely responsible” for the successful conclusion to that effort. The Rosetta Club named her outstanding clubwoman in 1984, and now she is lifetime honorary member.
• Civic Music Association and its successor, Community Concerts Association, in which she has led successful membership campaigns, bringing top performing classical musicians to Beeville.
• United Clubs Youth Council, which she organized and served as president for three years, during which time the funds were raised to erect the Beeville Youth Center as a recreational facility for teens in 1948.
• Bee County Historical Commission, to which she was appointed by the county judge, Bee County Historical Society (a charter member) and the Genealogical Society, in which she has assisted in the work of preserving local, area and family history.
• Beeville Art Association, which she served as president for several years and during her tenure, worked with Beeville native Dr. Joe Barnhart of Houston to secure a home for the Beeville Art Museum; after he purchased and turned over the former R.L. Hodges home built in 1910 to the art group, Mrs. Adkins worked to acquire an endowment fund of $100,000 to underwrite future expenses on the home (renamed the Esther Barnhart House, in memory of the doctor’s mother), and another endowment fund to set up educational programs at the museum; also she initiated the annual Christmas Homes Tour, benefiting the work of the art association and has served as chairman of this event for 11 years.
• Beeville Garden Club, Texas and International Palm Societies, North American Butterfly Association, Corpus Christi Botanical Society (charter member), which indicates her interests in the birds, flowers and plants of this area.
She has often been lauded for her efforts in this community and elsewhere, as indicated by her inclusion in the biographical history, “Texas Women of Distinction,” written in 1962 by Ina May McAdams of Austin.
A Texas Ornithological Society charter member and founder, Mrs. Adkins continues the tradition of active birding even into her ninth decade. At age 89, she went on a birding trip to Trinidad in June 2007. Her life and story are an inspiration for TOS members.
Keenly interested in wildlife and conservation, Mrs. Adkins was involved in efforts to save the golden eagle, Harris’s hawk and Attwater prairie chicken.
Her greatest disappointment was the loss of Frandolig Island, a barrier island separating Rockport and Little Bay from the main Aransas Bay. She and John R. Beasley, a Beeville attorney, joined naturalist Connie Hagar in trying to save the birds on Frandolig Island, but developers turned it into Key Allegro, a mass of canals, homes and people.
Her biggest achievement would have to be Padre Island National Seashore. She stood up against big-shot politicians and argued for the park, resulting in a huge win for conservation. Her support for making it a national park was cited as vital in its establishment.
She also is a member of the Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society and Wildflower Nature Center.
In 2000, the old Terrell home in Berclair was offered to Mrs. Adkins and her art club. For the last few years she has been very involved along with the Beeville Art Association with the restoration and maintenance of what is now known as “the Berclair Mansion.”
Mrs. Adkins had always dreamed of having Beeville recognized on our U.S. highways. Her work with the county judge’s and mayor’s advisory task force and the state highway department furnished the opportunity. Now the beautiful welcome to Beeville signs on the entrances from the north and south on U.S. Highway 181 Bypass are adorned with the familiar county courthouse motif and many palm trees.
In the Bee-Picayune’s 50 years ago column, it has been noted that Mrs. Adkins, while helping her husband with the Bee County Centennial celebration in 1958, was in charge of bringing a wildlife exhibit from the Texas Game and Fish Commission to Beeville Oct. 19-25. Featured in the display were live mammals, fish, reptiles and birds.
Just this year, Mrs. Adkins agreed to take over for the late Gail Blackmon to stage the successful Sesquicentennial style show for the Beeville Historical Society, which was held at the Beeville Country Club last Thursday night.
She jokingly noted that working with wild animals was easier than hosting the style show.
Editor’s note: This includes information from previous stories by Joyce Latcham and Jimmy Jackson.